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Uncertainty Traps

Author

Listed:
  • Mathieu Taschereau-Dumouchel

    (University of Pennsylvania - Wharton School)

  • Edouard Schaal

    (New York University)

  • Pablo Fajgelbaum

    (UCLA)

Abstract

We develop a quantitative theory of endogenous uncertainty and business cycles. In the model, higher uncertainty about fundamentals discourages investment but agents can learn from the actions of others. Therefore, in times of low activity information flows slowly and uncertainty stays high, further discouraging investment. This creates room for uncertainty traps -- self-reinforcing episodes of high uncertainty and low activity. We characterize conditions that give rise to uncertainty traps. Negative shocks to average productivity or beliefs may have permanent effects on the level of activity through the persistence of uncertainty. We also characterize optimal policy interventions. The socially efficient allocation can be implemented with aggregate-beliefs dependent subsidies, but under certain conditions it necessarily features uncertainty traps. We embed these forces into a standard quantitative model of the business cycle to evaluate the impact of uncertainty traps.

Suggested Citation

  • Mathieu Taschereau-Dumouchel & Edouard Schaal & Pablo Fajgelbaum, 2013. "Uncertainty Traps," 2013 Meeting Papers 677, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed013:677
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. David Frankel & Ady Pauzner, 2000. "Resolving Indeterminacy in Dynamic Settings: The Role of Shocks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(1), pages 285-304.
    2. Mathieu Taschereau-Dumouchel & Edouard Schaal, 2015. "Coordinating Business Cycles," 2015 Meeting Papers 178, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Foster, Andrew D & Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1995. "Learning by Doing and Learning from Others: Human Capital and Technical Change in Agriculture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1176-1209, December.
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    5. Pablo D. Fajgelbaum & Edouard Schaal & Mathieu Taschereau-Dumouchel, 2017. "Uncertainty Traps," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 132(4), pages 1641-1692.
    6. Venky Venkateswaran & Laura Veldkamp & Julian Kozlowski, 2015. "The Tail that Wags the Economy: Belief-Driven Business Cycles and Persistent Stagnation," 2015 Meeting Papers 800, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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    18. repec:pri:cepsud:234kaplan is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Pablo N D’Erasmo & Hernan J Moscoso-Boedo, 2011. "Intangibles and Endogenous Firm Volatility over the Business Cycle," Virginia Economics Online Papers 400, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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